The government has informed that of the total 20 lakh smart meters, over five lakh have been installed so far in Jammu and Kashmir even as a major demonstration against the move took place even on Thursday in the Karan Bagh area.
Power Development Department Principal Secretary H Rajesh Prasad said 15 lakh more meters would be installed in the UT. Due to the demonstration, the vehicular movement in several areas, including RS Pura, Satwari and Chatha, remained blocked for hours. Protesters raised slogans against the government over smart meters and demanded their installation be stopped.
Surjit Singh, a protester, said there had been complaints of inflated bills where smart meters were installed. “We want the government to stop their installation as we do not want to give excessive charges for electricity amid frequent outages.”
An official said the Power Department was already facing major losses as there was a huge gap between the total cost of purchase of power and realisation of revenue. Prasad said to bring down the losses, the department had started installation of smart meters and other works.
During a recent meeting, Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta stressed quality power supply during winter could be ensured only if there was proper management of the demand and a concrete plan for the purpose.
Mehta impressed upon the officials to ensure that the availability of power during winter months is as per schedule. Residents of Jammu during the summer season had blamed the government for frequent power cuts which caused inconvenience. Power cuts were witnessed even during midnight. With the onset of winter season, the focus of government has shifted to Valley where severe cold conditions are witnessed.
The government has planned to launch media campaign to raise awareness about the judicious use of electricity. District administrations, especially in winter zone districts, have been asked to implement ban on crude gadgets.